Building a Community 

By

An interview with the Class of 2018 First Senior Class Marshal: Berkeley Brown. 

By JILLY CRONIN 

 

The Indy sat down with the First Senior Class Marshal, Berkeley Brown ’18, to discuss her plans for the Senior Class and her role in bringing it together. 

 

JC: What are the responsibilities of the senior class marshal and the rest of the senior class committee? 

BB: There are several sub-committees within the senior class committee. There’s the Social Committee, the Reflections Committee, the Class A Committee, and a Merchandise Committee. These committees are a representation of everything that we encounter. The responsibilities of the Senior Class Committee are organizing senior week events like organizing senior bars and senior outings, finding speakers for Commencement, and creating really fun but also reflective events for the class of 2017 in our final semester. I have been talking to marshals from the past four years about what they did and what was successful and what wasn’t successful. It depends on what we feel will resonate most with our class. We want to find a good balance of high-energy events and more reflective events. 

 

JC: Are there jobs specific the First Class Marshal? Do you work with the Second Class Marshal as the point-people for the rest of the committee? 

BB: Precisely. We, Wyatt and I [the Second Class Marshal], oversee the rest of the committee. We will meet with the treasurer and secretary weekly, the other sub-committees weekly, the gift marshals weekly, and the program marshals weekly, so it is mostly keeping tabs on everything that is going on and making sure that everything is getting done. But First and Second Class Marshal are pretty equal. We are a team.  

 

JC: What are your responsibilities after graduation? 

BB: Our responsibilities after graduation are to be involved in reunion planning and coming back for Commencement and Convocation ceremonies. I don’t know if we have to come back every year but we are always a touch point for the class.  

 

JC: Why did you decide to run for Class Marshal? 

BB: It felt very natural – something that I would be very excited about because I have done a lot of similar work in past years. I was on the First Year Social Committee my freshman year; on the UC my freshman, sophomore, and junior years; CEB sophomore year; and I have been involved in the Harvard Alumni Association Board of Directors since sophomore year. A lot of my work has been around building class community and thinking intentionally about what community building strategies or events really bring people together. I think that after freshman year people get kind of divided among the houses and into their groups. And seeing how impactful class-wide events were freshman year I just had a passion for this class cohesiveness that class committees can create. I really wanted to give back to the class my senior year in a substantive way and also continue to be involved in Harvard long term. I knew that Harvard would be a community that I wanted to have and contribute to and this seemed like a cool way to do it. 

 

JC: Do you think that it is easier for seniors, rather than underclassmen, to bond as a class and get them to really enjoy the time that they have left because it is your last year? 

BB: Freshman year has natural mechanisms that allow for freshman bonding like you’re in Annenberg, you live in the freshmen dorms, you play freshmen IMs – everything is very freshman centered – so I think that, in a way, people definitely feel more class belonging freshman year than they do sophomore or junior year. I think it might be easier senior week [for seniors to bond], but I think leading up to that we have to be really intentional about making sure that people are bonding beyond their blocking groups and their clubs and bonding with the broader community. But I definitely think that people would be more open to it and excited about class community this year because we are graduating. 

 

JC: What do you specifically want to bring to your role of Class Marshal? 

BB: I really want to make it fun for everyone who is in the class committee. I want everyone to take ownership of their work and be excited about it because I think that no committee is effective if they are not excited about it and don’t believe in the work. As a PAF, I am used to making people reflect on their time here and think about what has been important. I want to bring that to this role. I want to ground every discussion in belonging. I want to think about inclusive events and what is meaningful to each person on the senior class committee. So I really want [working on the senior class committee] to be a transformative experience. I want it to be really efficient and really productive and I want everyone to feel like they have discovered something new about themselves through this process – I probably will, too – and it to be personally meaningful as well as meaningful to the wider community. 

 

JC: Final thoughts? 

BB: I’m really excited! I’m excited to get going and get the ball rolling and meet with the rest of the committee! It’s such an interesting structure because tonight I’m going to meet the people that I’m going to work with for the rest of my life. I am just really excited to get to work and I am really honored and humble and thankful to be in this role! 

 

Jilly Cronin ([email protected]) wishes Berkeley and the rest of the Senior Class Committee the best of luck in their final year at Harvard.